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20 Drawbacks Of Owning Muscle Cars Drivers Often Overlook

Cameron EittreimMay 7, 2021

Owning a muscle car is a dream for many automotive fans, but actual ownership can often be quite a bit different. Classic cars are very old and that can mean costly maintenance to keep them on the road. Likewise, parts are special ordered and much harder to come by these days. However, owning a classic car is more of a lifestyle and there are a lot of drawbacks as well.

The thrill of driving a fast muscle car is unmatched, but that doesn’t come without some aspects to consider before spending a ton of money on one. We looked at the drawbacks that potential muscle car owners often overlook below.

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20: Gas Mileage

Look, we know that you aren’t buying a classic muscle car for the high gas mileage. Yet it should be noted that most classic cars are horrible on gas and that is one of the most significant drawbacks. Take for instance the 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, perhaps one of the most iconic roadsters of all time. The Corvette got a measly 13 MPG. That’s awful mileage if a scenic road trip is in order, and it should be noted that the mileage contributes to the overall cost of ownership.

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The problem is that many younger buyers are simply trying to relive their childhood dreams not understanding the true cost of ownership. A muscle car isn;t something that you want to use for your main driver. Although you could theoretically live with a 1965 Camaro as a daily driver, who would want to? Classic cars are better reserved for weekend cruises.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

19: Lack of Luxuries

Classic cars are just that, classic. This means that many of the amenities that you’ve grown accustomed to are not going to be in that Plymouth Duster. Although restomods are a hot new thing to do. The common buyer is not going to be able to plunk down hundreds of thousands. Power steering is non-existent in many classic cars, it just wasn’t a common option until much later on. Thus you can guarantee that the classic car that you have your eye on is going to steer like a boat.

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Power windows and locks are other uncommon options in classic cars. Remember when you had to crank the windows? Well, most classic cars utilize this archaic method. You aren’t going to have the kinds of creature comforts that you are used to. A lot of new classic car buyers are not privy to living without these features.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

18: They Lack Safety Features

Classic cars were developed in a time when the automotive industry itself was still discovering safety. This means that classic cars don’t have airbags, and many of these cars only had a lap belt for passengers. Suffice to say you aren’t going to have a lot of the necessities when it comes to owning a muscle car. But most drivers of these types of cars don’t care about having the latest safety technology.

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But for a brand-new buyer from a different generation, this car is surprising, It should again be noted that it generally isn’t the best idea to use one of these cars for everyday transportation. You probably want to keep your kids safe and a ’69 Camaro might not do it, another of owning a muscle car’s big drawbacks. For thrills and excitement, classic cars are great to keep around.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

17: Maintenance

Muscle cars are expensive to buy but even more expensive to maintain. You can best believe that you are going to have some costly repairs in the first year of ownership alone. Likewise, finding a professional to work on a classic car is also a challenge in itself. Few people know to completely rebuild one of these cars, and that knowledge is pricey. The classic car market has evolved a lot in the past few years, turning into a bubble.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The costs of maintaining a muscle car are not cheap depending on the model and rarity. Even if the parts are easy to come by finding someone who can work on them isn’t easy, adding to the long list of drawbacks. It’s important to factor in the costs associated with keeping a car like this on the road. Before you plunk down such a large chunk of change to live out that childhood dream.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

16: Bodywork

Again, as with any high-priced classic item, it’s hard to find replacement parts. Just like with an old Apple Mac, you aren’t going to be able to just buy a new fender for a 1964 Corvette. It takes a lot of work to replace the parts when one of these cars is involved in a collision. And aside from that, it can end up becoming a total loss quite easily. Insurance is going to run you a premium on these types of vehicles because of the cost of repairs.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

In a lot of instances, the repair parts cannot even be obtained anymore, and you’ll have to purchase a donor car to use for parts and repair. So as you can see, there’s a lot of thought that goes into the ownership of a classic car. Don’t shy away from the dream now, but it should be noted which drawbacks come with classic car ownership.

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15: Insurance

With a classic car, you know that the insurance is going to be expensive. The age of a car and the rarity are going to affect how much you spend on insurance. Likewise, most times a classic car will need to be insured by a specialty insurance policy. You have to remember that the replacement parts for these vehicles are hard to come by. An insurance company isn’t going to value your ’69 Camaro at $100,000 just because the market is shifting that way.

Photo Credit: Pexel

Instead, you’ll have to seek out a policy that will cover special upgrades. You want to make sure that every aspect of that car is going to be covered. Because without the proper insurance you could suffer a total loss in the case of a theft or accident. The more expensive insurance is something that people often overlook when it comes to a classic car.

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14: Not Environmentally Friendly

This should be a no-brainer. Do you see old Chevelles at Whole Foods every weekend? Probably not, as these cars just aren’t environmentally friendly. You are going to be a polluter unless you’re driving a vehicle that has a new, modern engine. Something popular nowadays is to swap an LS-series Corvette engine into these older cars. But if you don’t have the thousands of dollars to plunk down on that, you will be polluting.

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When we are planning a race track day the last thing that we are thinking about is pollution. If you care about the environment then you should take heed to the fact that most muscle cars are going to grossly pollute.

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13: Less Reliable

Depending on which classic car you get, older muscle cars were not the most reliable. From not being able to start on a cold day to issues with the carburetor. If you’re going to dive into the classic car scene, be prepared to spend a large amount of cash. Repairs are a dime a dozen and it will seem like you are always spending money on the car. Most classic car owners are used to this and don’t fret the small stuff, but for a newbie, this could be potentially startling.

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Classic cars are not meant to be your everyday driver, which is why some people have a bit of sticker shock. However, with regular maintenance and the expectation that things can happen the ownership of a classic car can be less stressful.

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12: Driving Restrictions

There are still a lot of restrictions on driving muscles cars, another one of their drawbacks. The plight of the classic car owner is a never-ending cycle of money being spent to keep the hobby alive. Whether it’s a Chevy, Ford, or anything else you are going to have to deal with the same problems.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

All classic cars are the same, and all of them cost the same amount of money in the long run. With these restrictions and the fact that these cars aren’t the most reliable, it can be a pain for drivers. Nevertheless, classic car ownership can also be quite rewarding.

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11: Need Space For It

Storing a classic car is another problem, especially if you’re cramped for space. You don’t want to park the car right out in the open. Because theft of these older vehicles is on the rise. Especially as parts become more scarce and you have to deal with the rising cost of ownership. This is why most car collections like Jay Leno have a dedicated garage space. But, you are probably not a millionaire so this isn’t a practical solution for most.

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Finding the time, energy, and storage space for a classic car can be a real pain in the neck. Classic cars are fun to drive and own, but the long-term investment is more than a lot of people factor into the overall purchase.

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10: Odd Wheel Sizes

Another thing that potential classic car owners fail to realize is that tire sizes are hard to come by as well. A lot of these wheel sizes that were around back in the day are not there anymore. This means that finding a specialty tire or a new set of wheels with modern tires can be expensive. This is often something that new muscle car owners will overlook because they just want to throw some chrome on it.

Corvette L88 Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Chrome aside, finding the right wheels and tires can be a pain. You’ll be looking to spend a good chunk of money to get the wheels that you want. And if you have a rare vehicle this can seem like a never-ending hunt to find wheels.

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9: Interior

Another thing that potential classic car owners overlook is the interiors. These interiors are often very old and the materials are no longer in use. Vinyl seating for example is not used at all anymore by any major automaker. But if you are getting into an older vehicle the chances are that it has vinyl seating. You’ll want to examine this and go over things to see what you might need to do to upgrade it.

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Yes, keeping the original seating is important, but it can also be a very costly investment. You’ll notice that a lot of classic car owners are upgrading to modern interiors, and there is a reason for that. The cost of upkeep is much lower and the materials will last a whole lot longer in the grand scheme of things.

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8: Outdated Audio

We’re spoiled by the audio systems in cars today, we can pretty much find anything that we want. From live sports to podcasts to music, all from streaming. But in an older car, you’ll be lucky if there was a cassette player. Sure, you can find a cheap cassette adapter for your phone, but the sound quality may not be great. A lot of classic car owners are often pursued to upgrade to modern sound systems but then this will devalue the car.

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You are stuck between a rock and a hard place of having modern sound and a car that will delight you. That is something that a lot of classic car owners fail to look at before they go out and buy these old behemoths.

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7: Headlights

Most old cars have very dim headlights and a world of bright LEDs that just doesn’t work. Finding a functional medium between old and new is a hard choice for most classic car lovers. Do you keep it outdated in some respects, or do you update it and bring things into the 21st century? Sadly, this is hard to do with a classic car because you are going to spend a lot of money on the upgrade.

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Finding a light kit that looks original and won’t break the bank isn’t always easy. Especially if you have a rear vehicle that might be hard to come by. Parts makers are not just making new light sets for every vehicle that was on the road.

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6: Theft

With. aclassic muscle car, drivers are always at a theft risk because muscle cars are so rare. There is always going to be someone who is trying to steal your ride to sell it for parts. Likewise, these older cars were very easy to steal. Sometimes you didn’t need much more than a simple screwdriver to get the job done in the first place. But there are solutions for this problem such as upgrading to a new security system. You’ll find yourself less and less stressed out about potentially losing your expensive investment.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The potential theft risk that’s associated with a classic car is something that people don’t think about. You may spend a great deal of money on that car only to have it get stolen from you. Not a good investment when you think about it, so security should be taken into consideration.

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5: Glass

Another thing that potential classic car owners fail to realize is that replacing the glass in a classic car can be costly. Finding replacement glass on an older vehicle is nearly impossible, and if the vehicle is a special-edition model, it’s even harder. Getting the glass to be custom-sized is also not an easy task and it can cost you. There are specialty glass companies that cater to classic car owners but again this is going to be costly.

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When it comes to buying a classic car the glass probably doesn’t come to mind. But if you’re going to be doing estoration the glass is going to be an important step. When you have 50-year-old glass in a vehicle, visibility can be almost impossible.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

4: Outdated Air Conditioning

The HVAC systems in our cars have changed significantly throughout the years by automakers. Using different types of Freon to limit the negative impact on the ozone. There is a good chance that you’ll have a car that hasn’t had the AC retrofitted yet. This means that doing a recharge or even getting the AC to work correctly can be downright impossible. To get these air conditioning systems into the current decade, you’ll potentially spend a fortune retrofitting.

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Most consumers don’t want to go through this type of trouble to get a car cooled the proper way. A lot of potential classic car owners don’t factor this into that stellar “barn find” because a car that has been sitting outside for years is going to need some type of AC work done.

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3: Buyer’s Remorse

Perhaps the worst thing about sinking a boatload of money into a classic car is the buyer’s remorse that you’ll have. It’s never fun to spend a great deal of money on something only to regret it down the line. But that happens a lot to people who bite the bullet and spend a chunk of money on one of these cars. You’ll be into it once you get it and the classic car market is tricky. Selling one of these things can go from very easy to very hard.

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You’ll have a lot of people who are trying to lowball for the best deal and it can be quite frustrating. The classic car market is made up of buyers and sellers who prey on each other every day. The entire process can be a tiring one to say the least.

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2: A Target For Law Enforcement

Perhaps one of the most obvious problems with owning a muscle car is the fact that you’ll have to spend a great deal of time avoiding cops. Muscle cars are the target of police because of their speed and the fact that they can write an easy ticket. Where you wouldn’t have trouble driving an ordinary car from point A to point B, the same cannot be said for a muscle car. You are going to be constantly barraged by tickets if you even go a little over the speed limit.

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There is no easy solution to this problem. Most people who own any type of sports car will tell you how frustrating it can be. You are constantly on the lookout for patrolmen and the radar detectors that you can buy don’t work well.

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1: You’ll Never Get What You Spent

You see people who try and sell a muscle car for hundreds of thousands. The goal here is to turn a quick profit, but that doesn’t generally happen. Most people are cheap and looking for a good deal. That means that your car could stay listed forever. So if you are going into the muscle car market to try and turn a profit, don’t. There are already hundreds of shops that do this and do it well. You aren’t going to be the next reality show star who is flipping classic muscle cars.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

We don’t mean to burst your bubble, but the market for these things is so inflated that most buyers don’t even realize what’s in front of them. The muscle car era has long past but the classic cars of yesteryear are more popular than ever.

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